"Jonathon's Secret Love" was published October, 2010 with Publish America.
Available for order in all online bookstores.
"Jonathon's Secret Love"
is a book that has been
on my father's mind for
many years. He wrote a
very thorough outline and
I spent several months
editing for him. I'm
extremely proud of him!
Earl Clare McArthur
At twenty-three, handsome bachelor Jonathon MacDonald held the world in the palm of his hand with loving parents and a self-made fortune, until a single phone call changed the course of his life forever.
Now alone, Jonathon settles in Spring Valley, Michigan, a small town offering familiarity, yet is large enough to provide anonymity. He soon learns relocation cannot fill an empty heart. Realizing he acquired fortune through unrelenting determination, Jonathon risks everything by stepping beyond the law for the heart of a young Amish woman.
“Jonathon’s Secret Love” reminds us that each romance is unique and often fraught with remarkable twists and heart stopping intrigue.
"Jonathon's Secret Love" is currently being offered at the low, low price of $15.95! Click here to order directly from the publisher, Jonathon's Secret Love or visit Barnes and Noble.com or Amazon.com as well as most online bookstores. (they will update prices in the coming weeks.)
John MacDonald fidgeted impatiently in the cafeteria line. Ahead of him, football jocks scrounged dessert selections. He scanned the well-lit dining area littered with this year’s freshman. Excitement masked anxiety of their first day at
John was new to the college as well, following two college years in Community College at Western Michigan University. He sought to continue academic studies in a more defined curriculum.
His gaze landed on a young girl seated at a table with other students. Short, light brown hair haloed her radiance. His gaze locked with hers for only an instant, yet in that flicker, he noticed a spark in her eye, something that caught and held him long after she looked away.
John allowed his eye to drift over the room, before returning to her. Again, her glance locked on his. She smiled. John blushed, then, smiled. Her attention turned to a girl seated alongside. It had not been his imagination; there had been a glint of curiosity in her eye.
With little thought and tray in hand, he approached the table, then, summoned courage as she studied him. He choked past a lump in his throat and asked, “May I sit with you?”
“Yes you may,” She replied with a hint of a smile.
John placed his tray on the table and took a seat. “I’m John MacDonald.”
“Elizabeth Bowman – Beth. This is my friend Amanda.”
John nodded toward Amanda. “It’s nice to meet you, Amanda.” Amanda was attractive, but lacked the glimmer of Beth’s eye.
“Is this your first year here?” Beth inquired coolly.
“Yes, I’ve been at Western
“That’s a lot to focus on – this is my third year here. I’m majoring in elementary education. I’d like to teach in the lower grades – first, second or third grade.”
“Where are you from Beth?”
“I’m from Haines.”
“No kidding? I’m from Glenville! We used to play Haines in sports – and beat you most of the time.”
“Oh! I hardly think so.” Beth laughed. “What sports were you in?”
John blushed. “Living on a farm I couldn’t go out for sports, I had to help Dad. I went to all the home games though and most night games away if I could.”
“A farm boy, eh?” She giggled.
John nodded, “It’s a large farm – over four hundred acres. We raise crops: oats, wheat, peas, beans, barley, corn and hay. And with thirty milk cows, it keeps us pretty busy.”
“Oh my, how is your dad going to get along without you?” She asked playfully.
“Dad knew I wasn’t interested in farming, which is ironic since he raised me for it. Still, he always wanted better for me. I have two younger brothers still home – they’re old enough to handle the chores before they board the school bus.
“My folks and I decided I might be best starting at a community college, not so much of a culture shock. I guess we made the right decision. I did well at Western, now it’s time to spread my wings.”
“Well, John MacDonald,” Beth thrust out her hand. “It was nice meeting you. I know you’ll do well here.”
John noticed her firm handshake. “Thank you, it was nice meeting you too.”
Beth and Amanda rose from the table. “I’m sure we’ll see each other again.” The girls walked away. John heard a faint giggle from one of the girls, which of them, was unclear.
When certain they were out of earshot, Amanda chuckled, “My gosh, he’s adorable.”
Beth made a feeble attempt at disinterest, “Mm…rugged, handsome, gentle, he’s okay I guess.”
Amanda laughed, then nudged her, “Yeah… you like him.”
John watched their departure from a distance. A hint of honeysuckle lingered behind. Her sincerity and kindness impressed him, not to mention her beauty. Comfortable and exciting he thought.
Suddenly, it occurred to him that in the brief meeting, she knew his life story, and he knew nothing of the little pixie that had quickly captured his heart.
* * * * *
Her face crossed his mind through most of math class, and then again, in business administration. As he entered humanities, the last class of the day, he felt a nudge on his shoulder.
“Looks like we’re sharing a class together,” Beth announced with a confident smile.
John nearly choked on his words, “Um…yes. This will be fun.” He took a seat next to Beth in the class, a seat he would become familiar with over the rest of the year.
Over the following months, the pair became inseparable. Visits to the library were frequent, followed by late night strolls around campus.
* * * * *
One cold December Saturday evening, a week prior to the Christmas formal dinner dance, Beth called home to break the news about John to her parents. She began by announcing her date for the dinner dance, then, slowly revealed details of their relationship. Her father seemed mildly interested; her mother was ecstatic. Over the next two hours, Beth related the tale of her ‘new love,” then assured her mother that she would meet John during Christmas break.
As Beth hung up the phone, she replayed her last words to her mother, then, covered her lips with her fingers. Would he even want to meet her parents? We haven’t discussed this! Will he be upset? Am I being presumptuous in this relationship? Then, she quickly lifted the phone and dialed his dorm room.
“Hello?” His voice sounded sleepy.
“Hi, it’s me – I need to see you.”
“Hi.” John shook the sleep from his mind. “I must have dozed off while reading. I need to see you too.”
She gritted her teeth. “I need to see you right now! We need to talk about something.”
“Now?” John glanced at the clock on the wall. “It’s 10:30. Can we talk over the phone?”
“John – this isn’t a phone thing – I need to see your face. Can you meet me at the clock in ten minutes?”
He sat up on the bed, concerned, “Are you all right?” Her tone was even, no hint of stress, just impatience. One of many traits he found endearing.
“John! The clock – ten minutes.”
He heard the “click” of the line disconnecting. He cracked a smile and chuckled. “Women!” Still dressed, he slipped on shoes, snatched the coat from his bed and closed the door behind him. Such a late meeting was unusual for her. Whatever had prompted the late call must be bad news. He made his way across the courtyard to the campus center. Snowflakes kissed his cheeks with icy tenderness.
As he approached the square he could make out her form beneath the towering clock; she shuffled toward him. She wore jeans and light tennis shoes. He shuddered at the sight of the tennis shoes. To her credit, she had donned a powder blue parka with an imitation fur-lined hood, which hung loosely from her shoulders. Snowflakes rested gently atop her russet hair, giving the appearance of a freshly frosted cupcake. He found the comparison irresistible, “Good evening cupcake.” She fell into his arms.
“Thanks for coming,” she sighed resting her head on his shoulder. Then she kissed his lips.
After all these months, he still melted when she looked at him with those eyes.“What’s wrong?” He asked. “Is everything all right?”
She hooked her arm in his, “I’ve done something serious. Come on – walk with me,” then pulled, leading him along.
“What have you done?”
“Just walk, give me a minute to sort out my thoughts.” They shuffled along quietly. While she organized her thoughts, his were a whirlwind of missing puzzle pieces. Finally, she turned and braced herself defiantly in front of him. Her eyes fixed squarely on his. John stood close, feeling as if his body would melt into the pavement. Her gaze pierced his soul, looking deep as though searching for answers when she had yet to ask a question. A slight smile pulled at the corners of her mouth. A glistening spark in her eye glowed, driving away the icy chill. She spoke softly, “I told my mother she would meet you over Christmas vacation.”
“Okay.” He answered, bewildered.
“Okay?” Her expression changed to amazement. “Is that all you can say?” She shook his hands.
Confused, he searched his mind for a response. “Okay – that’s wonderful?”
Beth glanced up at the night stars, and then, to him. “John!”
He laughed and asked playfully, “What response are you looking for
She exhaled in frustration, then, led him along the sidewalk clutching his hand between her mittens. Her speech was animated, complete with waving arms, body twists and stomping feet. “Don’t you see? This is big – no this is huge! I’ve never done anything like this before! I was talking to my mother, telling her about you. The next thing I know, I said you’ll meet her! Without even thinking, it just came out; like it was supposed to be the most natural thing in the world! We hadn’t discussed meeting each others parents for jiminy sakes!”
“Jiminy sakes?” He teased. She slapped his chest. John followed along attempting to share her enthusiasm. Her tirade seemed to warm the blush in her cheeks despite the frosty air. Wisps of hair fell out of its usual tidiness. Her breath formed cloud angels and with each puff of icy breath, he realized how perfectly adorable she was.
She grasped him by his lapels, and pulled him close, feinting a stern smile, “Tell me you’ll meet my mother?”
“I’ll meet your mother.” He laughed.
“Tell me… um…you’ll like it.”
“I’ll love it.” He chuckled.
Then, tenderness replaced her smile, “Tell me you love me.”
Silence hung in the air. John’s thoughts raced with the question. In his mind, his response was unquestionable, but this was not how he had intended to tell her. In truth, he had no plan.
She looked into his eyes, searching for an answer, then smiled and shook him playfully, “Come on say it.”
John caressed her cheeks with icy hands, pulling her lips close, “I love you, Beth,” He kissed her passionately – this was not their first kiss– nor likely their last. Yet John knew that this kiss – this moment – signified forever. After breaking the kiss, their foreheads rested together.
Beth grinned, “After talking to my mother, I had planned to talk with you about our relationship, and just what it means. I’m not sure exactly what this…this…’us’ is. I guess I never really had to think about it before.”
“Well,” John kissed her forehead. “I’m glad I was able to help you clear it up.”
“It’s late,” she whispered, “we’d better get back.”
John and Elizabeth walked silently, holding hands in the falling snow until they approached her dorm. “Have you ordered your tux for the Christmas formal?” She asked.
John fell quiet, then, answered, “Not yet.”
Beth wheeled to face him, “John MacDonald!”
He raised his hands defensively. “I have all week.”
“A week? Barely five days until Friday!” She sputtered, “That’s hardly enough time for the shop to make adjustments. Did you think you’d just waltz in and find a tux that fit perfectly?”
“ Well I…”
“Jiminy sakes!” She seemed to gather her thoughts, “Okay, Monday morning at eleven, we’ll skip class and go downtown to get you fitted. I hope they can put a rush on it. You’re not the only person ordering a tux you know.”
“Okay, Monday at eleven.”
“Jiminy Christmas and sakes alive, MacDonald… will we be sitting with your friends or mine?”
John dropped his chin, took her hands in his, and said, “Let’s sit with yours. I don’t really have many friends.”
“You don’t, do you? Well why the heck not?”
A mischievous smile crept to his lips. “Because my free time is spent with you, my darling.”
She smiled playfully and shook her head. “Honestly, farm boy – what am I going to do with you? When we return from Christmas break, you’re going to work on that.” She moved close and delivered a quick kiss, “Go home and get some sleep, we’ve got a busy week ahead. Goodnight.”
She shuffled toward the door. Just as he turned to walk away, he heard her call. “John?” He again noticed the sparkle of her eye. “I love you John MacDonald.” She said, and then, disappeared through the doorway.
* * * * *
As scheduled on Monday morning, she accompanied him to town and had him fitted for a tuxedo. Before departing the shop, the shopkeeper assured John the alterations would be complete Friday morning.
Classes and mid-term exams filled his week. Friday morning, John drove to town between classes to pick up the tuxedo. Realizing Beth would be busy Friday finishing two classes and then, preparing hair and make-up, John had bid farewell the previous evening with an assurance that he would pick her up at the dorm promptly at six-thirty. Since the weatherman had promised, “Snow, snow and more snow!” he opted to drive to the dance.
At exactly six fifteen, John pulled his 1966 Ford Country Squire station wagon to the rear of the women’s dorm. His father had purchased the car as a gift before the beginning of the college year. In the small college town, the car had remained parked in the lot for months, with an occasional drive to charge the battery and keep the engine in proper working order.
John waited in the dorm lobby while students arrived to meet their dates. As each girl descended the staircase, flash bulbs flashed in accompaniment to compliments directed toward her. John fixed his attention to the top of the staircase.
Finally, Beth appeared with the powder blue coat draped over her arm. She paused at the top of the stairs. John’s jaw dropped. The black spaghetti strapped, floor length gown transformed her from the girl he loved to – a woman. A hint of makeup enhanced her natural beauty. Blonde ringlets hung over bronzed shoulders. John heard his voice say, “Wow.” As she descended the stairs, her eyes locked on his. Though he realized he was approaching the stairway, his feet seemed to move without conscious effort.
“How do I look?” She asked, offering her coat.
“You look – wow. I hadn’t realized I was dating the most beautiful woman on campus – make that the entire state.” He held up the coat as she slid her arms inside.
“Well thank you, Mr. MacDonald. You look quite dashing yourself.”
After posing for photographs, John escorted Beth to the car. She scooted close as he drove from the lot. “I’m excited. This is fun.”
John glanced toward her, “You look – amazing.”
“Thank you, I worked hours for you.”
She shrugged, “Okay, except for the hair, half an hour. But it all came together easily.”
After parking at the meeting hall, Beth hugged his arm as they unsteadily crunched across an icy parking lot. They filed through the doorway with a dozen other students. Beth removed her coat extending it toward the coat-check person.
John offered his arm and accompanied her through the double oak doors to the meeting hall. Decorating the room were vast arrays of dim white Christmas lights. Several hundred students and faculty milled around dining tables circling a large dance floor. At the far end of the hall stood a life-sized nativity scene, the largest John had ever seen. Soft music played. Scenes from a biblical Christmas lined the walls. The lone reference to modern Christmas was a forty-foot tall, decorated spruce tree in a corner.
Beth and John joined a line of students moving slowly along buffet tables. Platters of roasted chicken, turkey, ham, shrimp, and corn on the cob were dotted among bowls of squash, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy. John passed on an array of salads as Beth filled a plate with fruits and vegetables.
As they moved through the line, John heaped his plate with chicken, ham, potatoes and stuffing. Beth appeared more selective, though she toted a salad plate along with her dinner plate while John followed.
John enjoyed the meal while Beth chatted among her friends, as if they hadn’t seen each other in months. Half way through dinner, Beth’s attention seemed drawn to John’s plate. “You didn’t get any shrimp?”
He shrugged, “No, I’ve never had shrimp.”
“Oh, John. It’s the best!” She scooped a pink morsel into cocktail sauce. “Are you allergic to shellfish?”
“I wouldn’t know.” He answered hesitantly. “Like I say, I’ve never tried it. We don’t raise shellfish.”
“Are you allergic to anything?”
“Not that I know of.”
She held the shrimp close, “Here, just try a bite for me. You’ll love it.”
John bit off a small piece, chewed and shrugged. “It’s okay.”
“Fair enough.” She answered, “Different strokes for different folks I guess.”
John returned to his meal as Beth resumed her conversation between bites. Then, John politely reached to her plate, and asked, “Would you mind?”
“Of course not.” John plucked a shrimp, dipped it in cocktail sauce and plopped it into his mouth. Then, beneath the table, he felt her hand slide tenderly onto his thigh.
After attendants cleared the meal, couples filtered onto the dance floor. “Come dance with me?” She asked.
He rose from the table, “I’ve not done much dancing either, but I’ll use any excuse to hold you close. Just be patient with me.”
“Don’t worry farm boy. I have a feeling I’ll be patient with you for a very long time.”
On the dance floor, John held Beth close and fumbled impatiently to the music. Beth relaxed on her feet, guiding him through a waltz. Slow dances, which seemed more unstructured, came easy, though he occupied his time by avoiding other dancers.
As the evening ended, couples filtered through the doorway. John retrieved Beth’s coat from the cloakroom and slid it over her shoulders. They stepped from the front door onto a fresh blanket of snow as flakes drifted from a dark sky. Couples shuffled hesitantly across the icy lot to their cars.
Beth’s arm intertwined his. He noticed girls attempting to cover their hair from the snow. Contrarily, Beth walked with her face skyward, extending her tongue to capture falling snowflakes. He patted her hand, “I enjoyed this evening, thank you.”
“Thank you, for another wonderful memory of us.” She replied. “You were wonderful. I know you were uncomfortable with dancing, and the shrimp, but I appreciate you being open to new things. Stick with me, farm boy, we’ll educate you with some culture yet.”
“So much of this is new. College, you… us.”
“Not a single one.” He answered, opening the car door to let her in.